United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. BOYLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
an insurance dispute that has been removed from a Texas state
court. Allied Stone, Inc. (Allied Stone) sued its insurer,
Acadia Insurance Company (Acadia), the company that allegedly
handled the adjustment of the claim at issue, Union Standard
Insurance Group, LLC, and the individual adjuster, James
Amato. Allied Stone is a resident of Texas. But although
Acadia is not a resident of Texas, Union Standard and Amato
are. The defendants removed the case to federal court on the
grounds that Allied Stone fraudulently joined Union Standard
and Amato to defeat diversity jurisdiction. Before the Court
is Allied Stone's Motion to Remand. Doc. 8. For the
reasons that follow, Allied Stone's motion is
Stone owns a structure in Durant, Oklahoma. Doc. 1-5, Pl.
Pet., ¶ 4.1. In exchange for premiums, Acadia insured
the structure. Id. The policy provided coverage for
damage resulting from hail and wind. Id. In April
2016, hail and wind damaged Allied Stone's insured
structure, which prompted Allied Stone to file an insurance
claim with Acadia. Id. ¶ 4.2. In the claim,
Allied Stone asked Acadia to cover the cost of repairing the
damage from the wind and hail. Id.
assigned the adjustment of Allied Stone's claim to Union
Standard, which appointed its employee, Amato, as the
adjuster. Id. ¶ 4.3. According to Allied Stone,
Amato and Union Standard acting through Amato unlawfully
mishandled Allied Stone's claim. Doc. 1-5, Pl. Pet.,
¶¶ 4.3-4.8. Allied Stone alleges in relevant part
that “Mr. Amato did not prepare any estimates or scopes
of damages to the Property or failed to provide those to the
insured. Because of Mr. Amato's failure to estimate or
scope damages, Plaintiff was forced to prepare its own
estimate of damages and point them out to Amato”;
“Mr. Amato refused to retain appropriate consultants to
evaluate the claim. Specifically, Mr. Amato retained
consultants from a preferred vendor and was unnecessarily
hostile to the insured in claim communications and
investigation methods”; “Mr. Amato was the only
point of contact on Acadia's behalf yet he continually
delayed the claims process and refused to provide answers to
the insured and its representative”; and “Mr.
Amato represented to the Plaintiff that certain damages were
not covered under the Policy when in fact they were.”
Id. Allied Stone ultimately alleges that Mr.
Amato's wrongful conduct caused Acadia to wrongfully
underpay its claims. Id. ¶ 4.8.
11, 2017, Allied Stone filed its Original Petition in the
193rd Judicial District Court of Dallas County, Texas.
Id. ¶ 1. Even though Union Standard and Amato
are citizens of Texas, the defendants the removed the action
to this Court on diversity grounds, claiming that Allied
Stone fraudulently joined Union Standard and Allied Stone to
defeat federal diversity jurisdiction. Doc.1, Notice of
Removal. Allied Stone then moved to remand the case to the
Texas court, denying that it fraudulently joined Union
Standard and Allied Stone. Doc. 8, Mot. to Remand. Because
Acadia responded, Doc. 12, Resp., and the deadline for Allied
Stone to reply has elapsed, Allied Stone's motion to
remand is ripe for review.
courts have limited jurisdiction. Howery v. Allstate Ins.
Co., 243 F.3d 912, 916 (5th Cir. 2001). They can hear
cases only as authorized by the Constitution and statute.
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375,
377 (1994). District courts “must presume that a suit
lies outside this limited jurisdiction, and the burden of
establishing federal jurisdiction rests on the party seeking
the federal forum.” Howery, 243 F.3d at 916.
federal removal statute allows a defendant to remove any
civil action to federal district court so long as that action
falls within the district court's original jurisdiction.
28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). The defendants removed this case
because they think this Court has diversity jurisdiction
under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. A district court has diversity
jurisdiction over “all civil actions where the matter
in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000 . . . and
is between . . . citizens of different States.” 28
U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). For a case to be between citizens
of different states, no plaintiff can be from the same state
as any properly joined defendant. Mas v. Perry, 489
F.2d 1396, 1398-99 (5th Cir. 1974). And for a case to be
removed to federal court, ...